Nota and Require: The Oldest Western Annotation Symbols and Their Dissemination in the Early Middle Ages

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The margins of medieval manuscripts served as space not only for textual marginalia but also for annotation symbols. Two of the most common early medieval annotation symbols are the nota monogram, used to mark passages of interest, and the require siglum, used to mark passages the require re-checking, typically because they contain errors. While annotation symbols were used from at least the third century BCE, neither nota nor require can be found in the Greek and Latin papyri excavated in Egypt. They appear in the Latin manuscript evidence from the fifth century onwards. They may have been coined as specific late antique Western variants of older Greek sigla known from the ancient papyri. While in Late Antiquity, they represented only two of many conventions in use for marking passages of interest and errors, by the end of the eighth century, nota and require became the preferred forms of the annotation and the correction signs respectively in the Latin West.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScribes and the Presentation of Texts (from Antiquity to c. 1550)
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 20th Colloquium of the Comité international de paléographie latine
EditorsBarbara A. Shailor, Consuelo W. Dutschke
PublisherBrepols Publishers
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)978-2-503-59516-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series



  • medieval manuscripts
  • medieval book
  • late antiquity
  • marginal annotations
  • history of the book
  • Carolingian culture
  • early middle ages
  • Intellectual history


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